The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 49 BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan and Notre Dame played precisely two football games against one another between 1909 and 1978. That hardly con- jures up the swirl of 100-year odium found in many longer-standing Big Ten rivalries. And yet, there's something undeniably special when the Wolverines and Irish get together, and always drama when they don't. Michigan players taught Notre Dame students the game, and will never let them forget it. The Irish went on to national acclaim and college football mythology, and carry the prideful arrogance of which the Wolverines are often accused. The two programs with the best winning percentages in the history of the college game might need each other more than they're willing to admit. But for now, the series — which Michigan leads, 24-16-1 — is hurtling headlong for an- other timeout, perhaps an extended one after the Wolverines and Irish will meet under the lights in South Bend on Sept. 6. Following that contest, it's anybody's guess when glittering golden domes will collide against winged helmets once more. More than a few folks see such separation as a shame. "I'm very disappointed," former Michigan linebacker Jarrett Irons noted. "Throughout my career, I enjoyed playing in the Notre Dame series. You have two great traditions, a great rivalry. I hate to see them come off the schedule. "It's unfortunate. When you have two sto- rybook universities that have been great for a long time, it's sad. If you look at the last few games, the excitement that comes is because of the buildup and the tradition. I hate to see it go." If you look at the last 30 games — since the series famously resumed with the Rick Leach-Joe Montana showdown in 1978 — Michigan carries a 15-14-1 edge. Notre Dame fans would hate to let the series go without knotting up the post-1940s skein of contests, and with the Wolverines winning five of the final half-dozen, stressed Lou Somogyi, editor of Blue & Gold Illustrated, a publication that covers Notre Dame sports. "At least if you tie it up there, Notre Dame people will say: 'Okay, it's a draw,'" Somo- gyi reckoned. "But if they end up winning again, and five of the last six, it would be un- forgivable or unacceptable to many people." It wouldn't be the first time the words "un- forgivable" and "unacceptable" have arisen in this rancor-pocked series. The Fighting Irish and Wolverines have pro- vided several thrilling finishes in recent years, including Roy Roundtree's game-winning TD catch during the final seconds in 2011. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 48-53.End Of ND Rivalry.indd 49 6/18/14 3:50 PM

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